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A large meteoritic event over Antarctica ca. 430 ka ago inferred from chondritic spherules from the Sør Rondane Mountains

van Ginneken, M., Goderis, S., Artemieva, N., Debaille, V., Decrée, S., Harvey, R. P., Huwig, K. A., Hecht, L., Yang, S., Kaufmann, F. E. D., and others. (2021) A large meteoritic event over Antarctica ca. 430 ka ago inferred from chondritic spherules from the Sør Rondane Mountains. Science Advances, 7 (14). Article Number eabc1008. ISSN 2375-2548. (doi:10.1126/sciadv.abc1008) (KAR id:88117)

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Large airbursts, the most frequent hazardous impact events, are estimated to occur orders of magnitude more frequently than crater-forming impacts. However, finding traces of these events is impeded by the difficulty of identifying them in the recent geological record. Here, we describe condensation spherules found on top of Walnumfjellet in the Sør Rondane Mountains, Antarctica. Affinities with similar spherules found in EPICA Dome C and Dome Fuji ice cores suggest that these particles were produced during a single-asteroid impact ca. 430 thousand years (ka) ago. The lack of a confirmed crater on the Antarctic ice sheet and geochemical and 18O-poor oxygen isotope signatures allow us to hypothesize that the impact particles result from a touchdown event, in which a projectile vapor jet interacts with the Antarctic ice sheet. Numerical models support a touchdown scenario. This study has implications for the identification and inventory of large cosmic events on Earth.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1126/sciadv.abc1008
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB651 Planets, Minor
Q Science > QE Geology > QE515 Geochemistry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Funders: Science and Technology Facilities Council (
Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (
Depositing User: Matthias van Ginneken
Date Deposited: 14 May 2021 09:21 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2022 15:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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